For math-phobic, numbers pose threat of pain, study says
November 1st, 2012
04:57 PM ET

For math-phobic, numbers pose threat of pain, study says

You're at a big group dinner and it's time to pay up, to divide the total and multiply a certain percentage for the tip. How many people tense up and say something like, "Oh, I'm so bad at math"?

Fear of math is everywhere – in the adult world where there aren't official pop quizzes, and in schools where the next generation of scientific problem-solvers are struggling with homework.

Researchers report in a new study in the journal PLoS One that this anxiety about mathematics triggers the same brain activity that's linked with the physical sensation of pain.

"I’m really interested in understanding the source of the anxiety so that we can help all students perform up to their best in this important area," says Sian Beilock, a University of Chicago researcher and one of the study's authors, who is also the author of the book “Choke.”

Read the Full Story from "The Chart"
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Filed under: Kids' health • Math
October 23rd, 2012
01:08 PM ET

Homebound student learns via Skype

By John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - When students are sick, many teachers send lessons home. At Father McGivney Catholic High School in Maryville, Illinois that’s 20th century thinking. Homebound teen Alixandria Horstmann uses technology to attend her classes there virtually.

Horstmann’s medical issues meant she had to stay home for about three months. The school already has replaced textbooks with laptops and iPads, so one of her classmates came up with the idea of carrying a laptop from class to class. Horstmann sits in her living room, listening – and contributing – via Skype on her iPad.

Father McGivney principal Michael Scholz told CNN affiliate KSDK that virtually attending school has advantages beyond academics. “The student who’s gone can still feel a part of your school and community,” Scholz said.

Parents: How do you think your child would handle learning via Skype?
Teachers: How would you accommodate a child who wants to learn virtually?

Please tell us in the comments below.

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Filed under: At Home • High school • Kids' health • Practice • Technology • video
Breakfast comes to the classroom
September 7th, 2012
03:24 AM ET

Breakfast comes to the classroom

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - Less than half of the children in America who are eligible for a free or reduced breakfast take advantage of the USDA-provided meal. A program called "Breakfast in the Classroom" is trying to get more lower-income students to eat breakfast. The program, managed by a group of organizations known collectively as the Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, brings food to the students in class after the morning bell. That way, students don't come to school early just to eat, and they aren't rushing to get to class, skipping breakfast on the way. The program was launched in five school districts around the country and expanding to include ten more this school year.

Research suggests that there are educational benefits to eating breakfast at school, even over students who eat the meal at home. These include better attendance, behavior and higher standardized test scores.

Knox County Schools in Tennessee, which opened its doors to students on August 14, is a newcomer to the in-classroom meal program .

Jon Dickl, the director of school nutrition for Knox County, told CNN that there are several advantages to eating breakfast in class. "The students are in their seats ready to learn as soon as the bell rings," Dickl said. "It reduces tardiness and discipline issues and provides an opportunity for teachers to develop relationships," he continued.

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Filed under: Kids' health • Nutrition • Practice
July 11th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Schools want to ban homemade sweets

A classroom celebration without homemade sweets? Schools in Easton, Massachusetts want to ban sugary treats from home as part of the district’s effort to provide students with healthier food choices in the classroom.

Instead of cupcakes, officials are suggesting a list of "safe foods" that fit a wellness policy.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments: Would banning baked goods during school celebrations be bittersweet? Can you celebrate a birthday without a cupcake?

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Filed under: Kids' health • Policy
Does obesity affect school performance?
June 14th, 2012
12:28 PM ET

Does obesity affect school performance?

By Amanda Gardner, Health

( - Obese children and teenagers face a slew of potential health problems as they get older, including an increased risk of diabetes, heart attacks, and certain cancers. As if that weren't enough, obesity may harm young people's long-term college and career prospects, too.

In recent years, an uneven yet growing body of research has suggested that obesity is associated with poorer academic performance beginning as early as kindergarten. Studies have variously found that obese students - and especially girls - tend to have lower test scores than their slimmer peers, are more likely to be held back a grade, and are less likely to go on to college.

The latest such study, published this week in the journal Child Development, followed 6,250 children from kindergarten through fifth grade and found that those who were obese throughout that period scored lower on math tests than non-obese children.

What's more, this pattern held even after the researchers took into account extenuating factors that can influence both body size and test scores, such as family income, race, the mother's education level and job status, and both parents' expectations for the child's performance in school.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

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Filed under: Early childhood • Kids' health • Policy • Practice • Testing
Schools awarded $25K for helping kids move
Students at a middle school in Miami climb on a traversing wall in a Fit-Tech Wellness Lab.
May 22nd, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Schools awarded $25K for helping kids move

By Jacque Wilson, CNN

(CNN) - As the district director of physical education and health literacy for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Jayne Greenberg's annual budget is $0.

That's right - $0.

It's almost unbelievable when you know the statistics - that one in six U.S. children are obese, that nearly one-third are overweight, and that these rates are even higher for Hispanic children (of whom Miami has a high population).

But Greenberg doesn't despair. "I've been in my position since 1995 - I've never had a budget," she says. "It's always been up to me to find my own money."

She has also found a way to encourage students to sign up for gym class again.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is one of nine regional finalists in the Active Schools Acceleration Project's first annual Innovation Competition. ASAP is an initiative started by, an organization dedicated to reversing the trend in childhood obesity.

The requirements were simple: Schools had to show a way they were encouraging students to move throughout the day. The school's program had to be creative, include all fitness levels and be easy to duplicate in other districts.

Read the full story

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Filed under: Issues • Kids' health • Practice • Sports
May 10th, 2012
01:30 PM ET

Today's Reading List

Here's what the editors of Schools of Thought are reading today: Recess, New Menus Key to US Obesity Crisis, Report Finds
A recent report from the Institute of Medicine projects that 42% of Americans could by obese by 2030. One recommendation from the institute: at least 60 minutes per day of physical education and activity in schools. Colotl allowed to stay for another year
Federal officials granted Jessica Colotl, the Georgia college graduate at the center of a debate over whether illegal immigrants should attend public colleges, a one-year deferment from deportation. Colotl's case resulted in a state ruling that barred illegal immigrants from many of Georgia's colleges.

Washington Post: Principal urges state ed chief to take standardized tests to see problems with exams
New York principal Sharon Fougner was so upset with questions on recent state standardized tests that she issued a challenge to New York's education commissioner – take the test. In a letter to the commissioner, Fougner reports that many of her students cried during testing, while others simply gave up. "It is unacceptable for eight, nine and ten year olds to be subjected to this kind of torment," Fougner says in her letter.

New York Times: Move to Outsource Teacher Licensing Process Draws Protest
Stanford University is working with education company Pearson on the development of a new national licensure procedure. Of the 68 teacher-candidates at the University of Massachussetts, 67  are protesting the procedure, saying that their colleagues are better equipped to judge them than are paid scorers.  The teacher candidates have also refused to send in required videos of their teaching due to privacy concerns. Columnist smarter than a fifth grader? No way
In a head-to-head knowledge match, a Huntsville Times columnist loses to a Horizon Elementary School fifth grader.

April 30th, 2012
01:11 PM ET

Boyz II Men singer Shawn Stockman on the impact of autism

Shawn Stockman of the group Boyz II Men opens up about one of his twin sons who has autism, and autism's impact on his family.

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Filed under: At Home • Autism • Kids' health • Perry's Principles • Practice • video
March 30th, 2012
01:38 PM ET

Got (chocolate) milk?

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at why one school's attempt to make lunch healthy backfired.

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Filed under: Kids' health • video
Utah lawmakers vote for abstinence-only sex education
March 13th, 2012
06:09 AM ET

Utah lawmakers vote for abstinence-only sex education

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) – When I was a senior in the late 1980s, my high school brought in a woman from Planned Parenthood to talk to my health class. I remember her because she had props a condom and a banana. Utah may outlaw lessons like that one very soon. The state's legislature passed a bill mandating that when it comes to sex education, public schools must teach about abstinence, and almost nothing else.

If the bill is signed by Gov. Gary Herbert, Utah's teachers will not be allowed to inform students about contraceptives, "the intricacies of intercourse," homosexuality, or sexual activity outside of marriage. The bill says teachers would have to inform students that, "abstinence from all sexual activity before marriage and fidelity after marriage as the only sure methods for preventing certain communicable diseases." Teachers would still be allowed to provide instruction on male and female physiology and anatomy, as well as health issues like AIDS/HIV. The proposed law does allow schools one other option: not to teach anything about sex at all.

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Filed under: Curriculum • Kids' health • Policy • Politics
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